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France emergency: Armed man surrenders to police after six-hour stand off – hostages freed

The 34-year-old man, whom police said was armed with a handgun, is believed to have Islamist ties and to be on a security agency watchlist, two senior police union officials in direct contact with officers involved in the operation said. He initially seized six hostages in the BRED bank branch located on Boulevard de Strasbourg shortly after 5pm local time, before releasing them all one by one. The man is understood to have made several demands and police are in negotiations, with elite tactical police officers being deployed and a bomb squad dispatched, a police source said.

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Witnesses said no weapons were used as the man was arrested.

The official, who is in regular contact with officers involved in the operation, said there had been concerns a bag possibly containing explosives at the scene.

The man had also asked for a motor scooter and access to social networks, the police source added.

French journalist Jean-Marc Morandini claimed on his website the man was wearing an explosives belt, as did French news website actu.fr.

Yves Lefebvre, head of SGP Unite police union, said: “We’ve identified him. He’s on a watchlist. We know that he has been radicalised and suffers a serious psychiatric illness.”

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France hostage situation unfolds at bank in Le Havre (Image: @macha_mcn)

The BRED bank in Le Havre (Image: Google)

Respect the security perimeter set up by@ PoliceNat76600

National Police of the Seine Maritime

Police cordoned off the area and are urging the public to stay clear of the bank on Boulevard de Strasbourg in the city centre, the local prefecture said.

No casualties have been reported.

France 24 earlier tweeted: “A hostage-taking is currently underway in a #Bred bank branch, Boulevard de Strasbourg in #Havre.

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A police car at the scene (Image: @macha_mcn)

“An armed man broke into the bank around 5 pm and is holding 6 people hostage, the neighborhood is cordoned off.”

The National Police of the Seine Maritime tweeted: “Police operation in progress boulevard de Strasbourg @LH_LeHavre.

“Respect the security perimeter set up by@ PoliceNat76600.”

Another Twitter used posted: “The streets adjoining Boulevard de Strasbourg are currently blocked, all access prohibited between the town hall and the sub-prefecture.”

Firefighters and ambulances were also on the scene.

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Former French PM Edouard Philippe (Image: GETTY)

Police outside the bank (Image: @macha_mcn)

A woman was reportedly released just before 5.30pm (BST).

Another hostage is thought to have left the building shortly afterwards, and three more subsequently.

France 24 suggested the second hostage, a 53-year-old man, may have managed to escape, rather than being released.

Pictures on social media showed large numbers of emergency vehicles on the scene.

Le Havre is on the French north-west coast (Image: GETTY)

An employee at a Burger King outlet about 100 metres away bank said police had told them to lock an entrance on the same street as the hostage-taking but not ordered them to shut.

Le Havre’s new mayor is Edouard Philippe, President Emmanuel Macron’s former prime minister who resigned in early July.

Le Havre is a town of around 170,000 people on the English channel, about 200 km north-west of Paris.

Source Daily Express :: World Feed

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